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US slaps sanctions on North Korea-linked shipping company

[WASHINGTON] The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on a Singapore-based shipping firm and its president, alleging they are supporting illicit arms imports into North Korea.

The Treasury Department said that Senat Shipping Company was providing extensive support to Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), a North Korean company that already was under sanctions.

It also designated Senat's president, Leonard Lai, and identified as "blocked property" the "Dawnlight", a vessel owned by Senat.

The sanctions freeze any US assets held by Senat and Lai and prohibit US citizens from having transactions with them and the vessel.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed North Korea is already heavily sanctioned following a series of nuclear and missile tests staged in violation of UN resolutions.

The United States and the United Nations slapped sanctions on OMMC in July 2014 for attempting to import arms into North Korea.

"Arms shipments transported by OMMC serve as a key resource for North Korea's ongoing proliferation activities. Sales from these shipments contribute to North Korea's other illicit programs," said Adam Szubin, the Treasury's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement Thursday.

"We are working to make it as challenging as possible for North Korea to continue its unlawful behavior by actively targeting anyone or any business that supports these illicit arms transfers."